Background: Various types of sensory manipulation influence human motor performance. Most studies examining sensory manipulation have focused on the sensory effects on fine motor skills. However, gross whole-body movements are also important to many tasks of daily living requiring larger motor output for movement, yet little is known about the effects of sensory manipulation on these movements.
Goal: The goal of the current study is to examine one type of sensory manipulation, cooling, and the effect this may have on motor performance of a vertical jumping task.
Objectives: We hypothesize that sensory cooling of the soles of the feet will lead to decreased performance on a gross motor task of maximal vertical squat jump (MVSJ).
Approach: Participants are first instructed on proper technique for performing a MVSJ. Following practice trials and a brief rest period, the participant performs baseline vertical jumping trials. The soles of the participants’ feet are then submerged in an ice-water bath for 15 minutes to induce sensory cooling. Immediately following the cooling procedure participants perform subsequent trials of the MVSJ. The feet are then allowed to warm naturally for 15-minutes and subsequent MVSJ trials are performed. Immediately prior to the completion of the jumping trials for each condition, temperature measurements of the soles of the feet are recorded and following jumping trials, a standardized evaluation of tactile perception is completed. Joint angles, joint power, and jump height at key points during the jump sequence are calculated.
Results: Preliminary results suggest that sensory manipulation in the form of cooling the soles of the feet reduces MVSJ height as compared to the baseline condition. Additionally, given a re-warming phase following the cooling procedure maximum jump height increases towards that of the baseline condition.
Importance to public health: Diseases such as diabetes can lead to a condition known as peripheral neuropathy which diminish patients’ ability to correctly perceive tactile and temperature stimuli, especially in the feet. By understanding the change in performance with induced sensory loss in the feet, we can begin to understand the necessary rehabilitation considerations to improve quality of life for clinical populations suffering from the loss of peripheral sensation.